I Received My First Dose of the COVID-19 Vaccine


I struggled with my decision to get the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s not like I didn’t have a rational reason for my fears. Living with autoimmune disease, I have to be cautious. I never know when something new will trigger a flare up. In addition, I’ve had to discontinue a number of medicines through the years due to adverse reactions. Not to mention my mild food allergies have worsened to the point of anaphylaxis. But in spite of my fears, I took a huge step. On April 7th, 2021 I received my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

I’ve had other vaccines, but the COVID-19 vaccine was different. This is a new vaccine with no history. I’m just not a ground-breaking kind of person when it comes to medicine. But COVID-19 gave me two options. I could either:

  • Get the vaccine and run the risk of an adverse reaction.
  • Avoid the vaccine and run the risk of getting extremely ill, or worse.

I didn’t like either option. I weighed the risk associated with each.  In the end, I decided getting the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine was in my best interest. Immunosuppressants place me at an increased risk for severe symptoms due to COVID-19.  Even though I’m on a low dose, I didn’t want to take a chance.

Vaccination Day

The morning I received my first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, I ate a light breakfast before leaving home. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, you should eat a light snack or meal. They also advise that you drink water to stay hydrated.

I received my first dose of the vaccine at the medical center of a local college campus. A few weeks prior I had registered myself and 2 of my children online with the county health department. Within a couple of weeks I received an email inviting me to schedule an appointment for my first dose. I only received an invitation for myself, not my 2 children. Because I take immunosuppressants to treat my autoimmune disease, I fell into category 1C. This category is for:

  • People 65 -74 years old
  • People between the ages of 16 to 64 who have certain medical conditions. This includes people who take immunosuppressants.

Getting the vaccine

The Health Department ran a tight operation at the university. When I arrived an attendant at the entrance scanned the QR code I’d received in my email confirmation. I entered the building and stood on line. I was asked to show my photo Id. My temperature was taken. I stood on another line. The attendant at this table asked for my insurance card before giving me a consent form.

I read on the back of the consent form that I would be billed. When I asked the attendant about this she told me I would be billed for administrative fees.  I was later told this was not the case and that I wouldn’t be billed at all. As to why my insurance card was taken, I was told it was the quickest way to get my personal information.  But isn’t my personal information on my driver’s license? I guess time will tell if I will get billed. 

I was ushered to another table to check in and was given a form on the signs of anaphylaxis. From there I stood on another line to get the vaccine.  Multiple stations were set up. Each station had a nurse administering the vaccine and a chair for the vaccine recipient. The vaccine was relatively painless. The nurse administering my vaccine advised me to stay hydrated. I proceeded to the observation area. 

The Observation Period

The observation area was open with auditorium-style seating. An attendant overlooked the audience. The usual observation period after receiving the vaccine is 15 minutes. But the CDC recommends for people with severe allergies to be observed for 30 minutes.  I set the timer on my phone.  For 30 minutes I watched for signs of a severe allergic reaction. Fact sheets for both Moderna and Pfizer list the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Rapid heartbeat    
  • Throat or facial swelling
  • A rash that covers the body  

Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine EUA Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers

Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine EUA Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers

The Period After Receiving the COVID-19 Vaccine

Later that day the pain at the injection sight went from mild to moderate.  It hurt more when I moved my arm. I also noticed some swelling in the area. Over the next few hours I developed a mild case of the chills.  I also felt a little tired. But I had gone to bed late the previous night. So I can’t be certain the tiredness resulted from the vaccine. After a brief nap the chills and tiredness subsided.

The injection sight pain and swelling lasted a few days. But even at its worst, the pain was tolerable. It was mild in comparison to the tetanus vaccine I received months earlier. This was the extent of my side effects.

Overall I’d say I tolerated the vaccine well. I had minimum side effects that resolved quickly. My second Moderna is scheduled for May 5. Stay tuned!